I can only think of 3 reasons why you wouldn’t shoot in RAW.
1. Your camera doesn’t have the capability.
2. You don’t have enough storage capacity.
3. You want to load your shots to the internet quickly and don’t have the software to convert the file.
Some of you may have other reasons, and it would be great to hear them.
I have read so many articles preaching the mantra “Always shoot in RAW”. To me there seem to be very few rules in photography that need to be adhered to. What I mean by this is that rules always stifle people’s creativity. If we look at the “Rule of Thirds”. Personally I think this is an excellent rule, but we have all seen many, many superb shots where that rule is broken. There are those who profess what correct settings you should use on your camera for each type of shot. This makes me wonder, why would camera manufacturers spend millions working on development so that the user can use the myriad of settings that they make available.
With the top 3 reasons, I think there is no reason for No.2 today, due to the low cost of cards, apart from being inadvertently left with a small card and no replacement on a shoot. But I still speak to people who shoot in jpg mode, and wonder why? Quite often they say it is because they only have a small memory card. Go out and buy more! Spending £500 to £1000 on a camera, then silly amounts for straps, bags and other accessories, when a 32Gb card costs under £20, is just plain silly. It’s like having a high performance car, with a highly tuned engine, and putting in supermarket fuel. Use the camera to its full potential.
I think another reason I hear why people don’t use RAW, is that they are novices and don’t understand RAW. Please take the time to educate them.
I don’t fully understand the RAW format and I believe that most people don’t, they just know that is the best format to save your shots. They are the digital negative. Once you have it you can make as many copies as you want, and do whatever manipulation you want and that negative is still exactly the same. All the colour information is stored so that it can be retrieved.
I like to think about RAW v’s jpg like a reference book. The book is pristine and thousands of people can read it to glean the information. One person uses a highlighter or writes in that book making notes and scribbling things out, and it becomes harder to read, some of the information you want is missing, and in the end others add there notes and it becomes useless.
So why am I revisiting this old argument of the benefits of RAW when it has been covered so many times? So that others realise the virtues of shooting in RAW, and what is probably the best virtue, covering up the users mistakes. It doesn’t matter what level of photography you are at, we have all made mistakes in photography. Anybody who tells you any different is a liar. How many people have gone out on a shoot and have left the battery in the charger, left the card in the adapter. Not charged the battery. Forgotten to take a spare battery or card.
Then we come to the settings. Setting up the camera incorrectly. This is what gave me the idea for the post. Well not actually setting it up incorrectly, more inadvertently changing them. I’ll make myself clear. On Saturday after leaving work, I went into Cardiff for a shoot. I had kept my camera with me in work in my bag. On leaving work I took it out and put it in the glove compartment of my car. When arriving at the train station I took it out and went on the shoot. When arriving home and downloading the images to the computer I noticed that there were a lot of images that were very bright. On further inspection I noticed that they were all shot at 1/640th. I checked my camera and saw straight away that the camera was set to Manual Exposure. Somewhere along the line, before starting the shoot, I had inadvertently knocked the dial from Aperture Priority which I always shoot on to Manual. As I keep the settings the same I never chimp. I don’t see the need as due to the nature of Street, once the shot is taken the moment has gone so you cannot change the settings and take it again, and I never have any problems.
The ironic thing is, I was with Nikonsnapper, and we bumped into 4d Photo Images, whilst out and Ian introduced us. He asked me what settings I use and I told him, but I didn’t show him or look myself.
All the shots above are from this shoot and you can see that through using RAW I was able to save them. OK you would be able to make some adjustments to jpg files but not to the degree I was able to, and most likely they would have been unusable. This is why I say to shoot in RAW.
Below are examples of what I was able to achieve using Photoshop, which is the program I always use. Photographers who are more experienced or knowledgeable with their preferred software, may have been able to get even better results, but these are fine for me, until I acquire those skills.
Shot 1 – Original RAW file
Shot 1 – After adjustments of the RAW File with Camera Raw
Shot 1 – After adjustments in Photoshop
Shot 1 – The reason I didn’t save as a B&W, was the reason I took the shot, her hair!
So the moral of the tale is shoot in RAW. There are so many more adjustments you can make with the RAW file. If you make a stupid mistake like I did by not periodically checking, there will be a much better chance of saving your shots.